Agua de València is a Spanish cocktail made with freshly squeezed orange juice, cava (sparkling wine), vodka, and gin. A fruity and refreshing cross between a mimosa and sangria, it tastes like Spain on a sunny spring day. Make this big batch cocktail recipe to share at your next gathering.
On my first day in Valencia, I asked our server for local drink and snack suggestions. When he told us to try the Agua de Valencia, or Valencian water, I thought he was mocking us. Did I travel all the way to the eastern coast of Spain to try the water?
Moments later, he walked to our umbrella-shaded table on the terrace with a saffron-orange pitcher and a carefully balanced stack of glasses. We spent the afternoon sipping on the sunny drink, chatting, and snacking on olives, almonds, and fried calamari.
Aigua de València (the Valencian spelling of Agua de Valencia) is sangria's lesser-known cousin. It's just as refreshing, delicious, and easy to make for a crowd as sangria is. One sip and I knew then I needed to share this delicious cocktail recipe.
This vibrant Spanish drink is perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
Table of Contents
What is Agua de València?
Agua de València is a pitcher cocktail created in the 1950s at the Café Madrid de Valencia. According to writer María Ángeles Arazo, it was invented by the bartender Constante Gil. He mixed the first Agua de València to please a crowd of rowdy Basques visiting the bar.
It worked, and Gil continued to offer the lively cocktail at the historic café. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the cocktail became emblematic of Valencian nightlife and soon spread to the rest of Spain.
Today, Agua de València is one of several Spanish batch cocktails typically served in pitchers. Gil was famous for creating the perfect environment for tertulia, a Spanish concept centered around the conversation between family and friends lingering at the table after dinner. In my experience, pitcher cocktails and tapas never fail to elicit convivial conversation at the table! Agua de València is perfect for a sunny gathering with snacks to share, like Antipasto Skewers and Pan Con Tomate.
Though Agua de València is often associated with sunny weather, oranges shine in the winter months. Agua de València is equally appropriate for warming up a chilly winter party with something bright and bubbly.
Ingredients for Agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia's crucial ingredient is freshly squeezed orange juice. Valencia is world famous for its oranges. Valencians would wince at using generic bottled orange juice in this drink. If you occasionally make cocktails, you probably already have the vodka and gin on hand. Pick up a bag full of oranges and bottle of brut cava. Or, if you'd like a sweeter drink, extra seco or seco cava works well.
- Orange juice: Fresh juice is best, with sweet and juicy Valencia oranges being the most authentic. Fresh orange juice is so ubiquitous in Spain that to order a glass, you simply ask for zumo natural, or “natural juice,” and they’ll juice oranges to order. You could also experiment with other types of oranges, like cara cara or blood orange.
- Brut cava: Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made using a similar method to Champagne. Brut is dry, and is the most common Cava both in Spain and abroad. Instead of using sugar to sweeten this drink, I prefer to adjust it with the type of cava. If you prefer a sweeter drink, opt for extra seco or seco cava (which means “dry” in Spanish but is sweet relative to brut).
- Vodka: Vodka is clear and very subtly flavored, giving this drink a boozy punch without compromising the flavor of the fresh orange.
- Gin: Dry gin or London dry gin work best in Agua de València, as they aren’t sweetened and the botanicals meld well with citrus.
How to Make Agua de València
Agua de València, with only four ingredients and a quick stir in a pitcher, is a great big batch cocktail or pitcher drink to make ahead of a get-together. The longer it rests in the refrigerator, the more the flavors meld together.
- Juice the oranges: Set aside one orange for garnish. Halve the remaining 6 oranges and juice enough to yield 2 cups. This is easiest with a citrus juicer, but it's not too difficult by hand with a citrus reamer. If you want the drink to be smooth, pour the juice through a sieve to remove the pulp.
- Mix in the alcohol: Pour the fresh orange juice into a large pitcher, along with 2 cups cava, ½ cup vodka, and ½ cup gin. Gently stir with a wooden spoon. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
- Garnish and serve: When you're ready to serve, slice the reserved orange into thin rounds, or use a vegetable peeler or citrus zester to extract thin strips of orange peel for garnish. Fill six large wine glasses with ice and pour the cocktail into each glass. Garnish with the orange slices or orange peels. Cheers!
What to Serve with Agua de València
Agua de València is an ideal party cocktail, perfect for washing down salty finger foods, like Crispy Fried Calamari. The Spanish classic Pan Con Tomate, or garlicky fresh tomatoes on crusty toasted bread, is always a favorite.
Agua de València is also great for keeping it easy on a casual afternoon, served with extra simple Mediterranean appetizers, like 5-Minute Marinated Feta and Easy Antipasto Skewers.
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Agua de València (Aigua de València)
- 7 medium oranges, such as Valencia, cara cara, or blood oranges
- 2 cups Brut Cava (Spanish sparkling wine)
- ½ cup vodka
- ½ cup gin
- Juice the oranges: Set aside 1 orange for your garnish. Juice the remaining oranges to yield 2 cups. If you want a smoother drink, pour the orange juice through a sieve to remove the pulp.
- Mix: In a large pitcher, gently stir together the orange juice, cava, vodka, and gin until combined.
- Chill: Set the mixture in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
- Garnish and serve: Slice the reserved orange into thin rounds, or use a vegetable peeler or citrus zester to extract thin strips of orange peel for garnish. Fill large wine glasses with ice and pour in the Agua de València. Garnish with the orange slices or orange twist, and enjoy.
- Stir the cocktail gently to preserve the carbonation of the cava.
- On a particularly hot day, you can chill your serving glasses in your freezer if there’s space, or using ice water (fill each glass with ice water, then dump before adding ice and the cocktail). It will help keep the cocktail cold for longer and give the glasses a festive frosty look.
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Easy and fun to make and so delicious